IPSWICH — Police Chief Paul Nikas and Fire Chief Andy Theriault announce that the Ipswich Public Safety Building Feasibility Study Report is now available.
To view the report, click here.
Since 2016 the Public Safety Facility Committee has studied the history of the existing police and fire stations, as well as proposals to improve or replace the facilities. Both facilities do not have the physical space to safely support modern public safety operations, do not meet current building and accessibility codes and would require a significant investment to maintain.
The Ipswich Fire Station at 55 Central St. was built in 1907 and intended for horse-drawn apparatus. The Ipswich Police Station at 15 Elm St. was built in the 1930s and originally served as a storage facility for the Electric Light Department. The Police Department moved into the building in 1986.
The Public Safety Facility Committee has determined that a single facility built to house the Police and Fire Departments, Emergency Communications Center, Emergency Management, Harbormaster, Shellfish and Animal Control is needed to allow for a modern, safe, effective command center.
“This process, like so many, was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re pleased to be back on track and making progress, as having efficient public safety facilities is critical to support the high level work among our various departments,” Police Chief Nikas said. “We encourage members of the community to look at the report and stay up to date with our public meetings as there will be a warrant article submitted for Town Meeting in the fall seeking full funding for this project.”
Residents can visit ipswichpublicsafetyfacility.net for additional information.
A new, combined facility would meet the needs of 21st century public safety, 24/7/365 communications center and better prepare first responders for potential emergency weather and flooding concerns posed by climate change. A shared building would also allow for training areas and appropriate vehicle and equipment storage.
The Town selected HKT Architects in December 2019 to conduct the Feasibility Study. HKT will also be responsible for the design process depending on the town’s next steps for its public safety facilities.
The report offers conceptual options for a shared public safety facility on a private parcel at 4 Pine Swamp Road. It also considers the current police station on Elm Street as a potential site, which was ultimately ruled out due to cost, land constraints and the impact the project would have on the community green along South Main Street.
The Pine Swamp Road Site is 11.9 acres of undeveloped farmland that taxpayers voted to purchase in 2020. It is surrounded by residential properties as well as Our Lady of Hope church. The southern half of the site contains wetlands and the majority of the site is within a wellhead protection area. Wetland areas on the site will remain undeveloped and kept as open space. The project will only impact between four and five acres of land along the northern portion of the site along Pine Swamp Road and Linebrook Road.
The site would be fully accessible, meet all essential program needs, accommodate all the needed parking and could allow for future growth. Community gardens located on the site would need to be relocated, however.
The total project cost, if voted on by residents this fall at Town Meeting, is estimated to be $27.6 million. Construction on this timeline would begin in fall 2022.
This summer, public hearings will continue to be held regarding the project, as well as public question and answer sessions provided by the Public Safety Building Committee members. Residents can sign up for email notifications regarding these meetings and other updates at ipswichpublicsafetyfacility.net.